Not An Elf

an excerpt

"The results of the MRI aren't good. Despite the last round of chemo and radiation, there hasn't been any halt in the progression of the tumor growth. It's continued to expand, and the latest PET scan shows it's metastasized. You're in stage four," said the oncologist. "I'm afraid there's nothing more we can do."

Zephariah Lewis stared at the office floor in misery. He had hoped so desperately that the last few brutal months of toxic medication had made a difference. "How long have I got?" he whispered.

"Three to five months at the current rate of growth."

"Oh." Not much time at all.

"We will do everything in our power to make your remaining time comfortable."

* * *

Zeph sat on a fallen log staring at the dusky evening light slanting through the forest, just thinking.

Seeking a way to cope with the terminal diagnosis, Zeph had called a buddy of his named Dan who owned a cabin up on a mountain a ways outside of Denver. Dan had apparently bought the place thinking he'd make it a nice getaway spot. The man had gone so far as to renovate the place but ultimately found it too remote, and was bored by the distance to even the nearest small town. To Zeph it sounded like the ideal place to escape the dismal reality of hisfuture for a while.

Was today a good day to die? He wasn't sure he was ready yet, but he was getting close. He touched the prescription bottle in his pocket. He had sixty oxy's, on top of the several dozen Percocet back in the cabin. How many would it take? Twenty? Thirty? If he took the whole damn lot, would he puke them back up before they did the job?

A faint noise drew his attention, and he looked off to his left. Half hidden in the shadow was a figure. Was that a person?

"Hello?" Zeph called out.

A man stepped out of the shadow of a large tree. He was tall and muscular, with very long blond hair that hung braided over one shoulder. He wore thigh-high leather boots, dark green leggings and a matching shirt under a leather doublet. He also carried a large bow, and an arrow fletching could be seen poking up from a quiver on his back. Zeph wouldn't have called him good looking exactly, but he was definitely striking, with a strong chiseled face.

"What makes you wish for death so fervently?" the man asked. His voice was low and even.

Zeph was still trying to puzzle out the odd way the man was dressed. Renn Faire escapee? The question caught him off guard. "Uh, what makes you say that?"

"It is in your thoughts."

Okay, that left Zeph mentally floundering a little more. Hell, why not tell the truth? If the guy was some loony toon serial killer, maybe he'd save Zeph the trouble of wolfing down a lethal amount of meds. "I have cancer, a brain tumor. I've been through three rounds of chemo and two rounds of radiation, and they all failed. I've got about three or four months left, and I don't really want to go through those last few miserable weeks."

The man gazed at him levelly in silence.

"And I'm too chicken to slit my wrists or try to blow my brains out," Zeph added.

"Such methods might undoubtedly prove painful."

"Yeah, my thoughts exactly. I figure if I down enough pills, hopefully I'll just fall asleep and stop breathing and never wake up."

"I commend your bravery to make such a decision," said the man.

"You're not going to run off to call the police and try and stop me?"

The man frowned. "No. Why would I make decisions against your desire?"

"I don't know. I guess just... lots of people think suicide is wrong." Zeph dragged a fingernail against the bark of the log he sat on.

"And you?"

"I used to lean in that direction, but knowing that otherwise I'll be spending my last days either doped to the eyeballs or screaming in pain... It kind of changes my outlook." Zeph stared down at his toes. "And either way I end up just as dead."

"I wish you peace," the other man said.

As the man with the bow turned to walk away, Zeph noticed something truly odd about him. Did he just see pointed ears poking up through the strands of hair? "Hey, wait!"

The man turned back to face Zeph.

"Um, what are you doing up here on the mountain?" Zeph asked.



"Deer," the man replied.

"I'm guessing you haven't gotten one yet, since you aren't dragging one around."

"True, but I confess I am not searching very hard. I mostly seek the quiet of the trees today."

"Are you..." Zeph hesitated. The guy was probably going to think Zeph was off his rocker. "Are you an elf?"

The man's mouth quirked in a hint of a smile. "Aes Sidhe."


"My race is Aes Sidhe. I believe some of your people call that fae."

"Like a fairy?"

"I suppose that term might apply, but judging from the image in your thoughts, I sense that word is usually applied to little flitting things with sparkling wings."

Zeph laughed a little. "Yeah, that is kind of true. Well, it was nice to meet you. My name's Zeph by the way."

"I am Llyr."

"Will you be around again sometime?" Zeph almost bit his tongue. Geez, that sounded like a bad pick-up line. He had to admit he thought the guy, the fae, was good looking. The broad shoulders and long legs were as nice to ogle as Llyr's face.

"Perhaps my question in response should be are you likely to be around?" said Llyr.

"For another day or two anyway. I haven't quite reached my..." He didn't exactly know how to describe the idea of one last day.


"Yeah, that's as good a word as any."

"Then there exists the possibility we might meet again." Llyr nodded gravely in Zeph's direction then turned and walked away into the forest.